The New York Rangers’ lineup for Game 3 will be identical to what it was for Game 2, head coach John Tortorella said Sunday afternoon. That means that veteran defenseman Steve Eminger and rookie winger Mats Zuccarello are both out.
Tortorella’s team has mustered just one goal over the first 138 minutes, 24 seconds of the series. However, even with his team trailing 2-0 in the series and facing essentially a must-win game on Sunday, he downplayed the importance of getting the first goal.
“I’m not gonna get into magnifying, backs up against the wall, all that stuff there,” Tortorella said. “We’re going to play. We know what we have to do, and we’re going to try to play.”
Still, the Rangers are going to have to start getting back to playing their cycling, forechecking, winning puck battles and making it happen beneath the hash marks type of hockey. They have failed to generate any significant chances, and the Capitals have blocked 53 of their shots so far.
“That’s a willingness, and it doesn’t matter what building,” Tortorella said of the Rangers needing to generate chances in the gritty slot area. “It’s a matter of trying to get there. It’s a matter of trying to funnel shots there to allow people to get there. The series is 2-0, but from my standpoint, either way it could change. And I think at times, I think we’ve defended pretty well. Our biggest key is just to get something good to happen for us offensively.”
During his answer, Tortorella referenced the Capitals’ huge power play goal in Game 2, which came after a puck deflected off first-year defenseman Matt Gilroy’s stick and right onto Washington center Jason Arnott’s tape before he buried it into a gaping net from the left circle.
Tortorella said his team’s coverage was good. It was just the victim of an unlucky bounce, a bounce that wound up putting the Capitals ahead 2-0 in the game and the series.
“That’s a huge goal,” Tortorella said. “I’m hoping something like that happens for us. We’re not far off.”
Tortorella said he’s anxious to see how his young players react to playing in front of an electric sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.
“This is all the process of building a team, so I’m glad we’re here,” Tortorella said. “And I think we will be better as we keep on going through this series.”
The biggest key to Game 3, according to Tortorella, is “momentum.”
“We can’t lose the series today or win the series today,” Tortorella said. “But we can grab some momentum, and that’s the most important thing in a series.”
Tortorella knows his team is going to be able to get matchups since they’ll have the second line change at home. Still, he doesn’t think it’s that big a deal.
“The matchups for me are a little overplayed,” Tortorella said. “They’re going to get their matchups. I know we like to talk a lot about those matchups. Energy is important, but you have to be careful. You need to have discipline too. I don’t need to speak to the team about playing with energy. Game 2 we were better. It’s a matter of keeping it under control.”
Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau had this to say about former New Jersey Devil Arnott:
“He’s been a mentor, a calming influence. His presence reminds me of when we acquired Sergei Fedorov. He’s come in here as a guy that’s won Cups. It’s made for a good marriage for us.”